Principal Advisory Board formed to hear students’ voices

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The school district has been taking steps towards promoting student voice through its commitment to creating schools that best benefit students. At the high school, one of the many ways this is taking shape is through the Principal Advisory Board.

The Principal Advisory Board is a group of students of all grades who meet every week to talk about issues and come up with ideas and events to improve the school community. They have already put on a study night and plan to work on big changes for the school in the future.

The school is currently working with the Center for Secondary School Redesign, CSSR, to become more innovative and shift the school’s learning environment to be more student-centered.

To accomplish this goal, last school year certain students visited various progressive schools in nearby states to see how other schools have successfully empowered their students to take leadership of their school environment and individual learning. Students, after meeting with those schools leadership, touring the schools, and getting to talk to students, brought back many ideas for how to improve the school.

As a result, at the end of last school year and over the summer, there were multiple student forums. At these forums, students who visited other schools talked about what they experienced and led discussions with other students, ranging from middle to high school, about how the ideas they brought back might work in Middletown and what their ideal school would be. This group, along with other student leaders, such as those who attended social justice training at Anytown, now make up the current Principal Advisory Board.

The Principal Advisory Board is still in its early stages and will probably change and evolve in the future. Colleen Weiner, the school’s principal, who runs the Principal Advisory Board, said, “One of the high schools we went to has a group called a school community council and it’s a very large body of students and actually parents and members of the community, so I think we’re working towards that.” They want to eventually have 45 or 50 members, while they currently have 22.

The board is also facilitated by guidance counselor  Bethsaida Franco and assistant principal Ryan Mertel.

The Principal Advisory Board recently organized a study night before the first quarter ended, a day when students could stay after school for tutoring and studying. Almost 100 students attended.

“We’ve been doing the study nights, we’re planning on doing them once a month,” said sophomore Alana Boirie.

Going forward, they plan to work on some long-term projects, too. “Right now, it’s more targeted towards events, but we are thinking about things like changes in PRIDE lessons,” Weiner said. Some other ideas that they have talked about include improving study halls and lunches.

As for the goal of the Principal Advisory Board, Boirie said, “We’re just looking for everyone to be successful in their four years at school, and we’re thinking of the best way to do it.”

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